I’ve noticed energy tax commercials on TV have increased in frequency. I figure the ads are a response by the oil industry to the bad publicity it continues to receive relative to the gulf oil spill, not to mention the incredible heat wave that stretches across America affecting a quarter of our total population this week. The news is calling it “Nature’s Blast Furnace.” Yesterday it was 106 in Baltimore, 104 in Newark, and 103 in Central Park, near 90 in Seattle, and 98 in Boise, Idaho. The Northwest is not used to high heat, and many homes don’t have A/C. In the mid-Atlantic states, it is so hot that construction sites are sending workers home early, and commuter trains are moving slower because the tracks are so hot they bend. There are 500 cooling centers set up in New York City alone. The heat evidently made it as far north as Toronto where they suffered a blackout yesterday. Our old grids are on the line too. Talk about job creation, building a new transcontinental smart grid that can accommodate a variety of energy sources. But that’s another story. With a huge disaster like the spill that continues to spread and now the heat wave, it’s not surprising that more Americans might think mankind does indeed affect the environment and we may be creating a nightmare for ourselves. To continue the same fossil fuel path is self destructive. Enter more frequent energy tax commercials, which is basic “Fear Mongering 101″ among an already income strapped citizenry.
I began to wonder just how much those commercials cost the petro industry, and also if they paid the people that appear in those commercials? The fact is that there is no new energy tax being considered for us. There are, however, new taxes being considered on oil production in the wake of the spill, in order to help clean it up. But what’s really on the line here is $36 billion dollars in government subsidies to the petro industry. That’s right, $36 billion dollars of taxpayer money goes to help one of the wealthiest industries do what it’s going to do anyway.
According to the New York Times, the president of the American Petroleum Institute likes to pit jobs against clean energy progress, something we’ve heard before from the likes of Big Coal that goes like this:
These companies evaluate costs, risks and opportunities across the globe. So if the U.S. makes changes in the tax code that discourages drilling in gulf water, they will go elsewhere and take their jobs with them. (Fear mongering at its finest in the economic state we’re in).
But some government watchdog groups say that only the industry’s political muscle is preserving the tax breaks. An economist for the Treasury Department said in 2009 that a study had found that oil prices and potential profits were so high that eliminating the subsidies would decrease American output by less than half of one percent.
Let’s see. I distinctly remember that Exxon Mobil had a net profit income in just one quarter that amounted to 40.1 billion dollars. So Exxon Mobil alone could literally eat the $36 billion from subsidies stretched across all of our petro industry annually in one lousy quarter and still profit 4.1 billion dollars in that same quarter.
But our petro industry doesn’t want to do that. Instead they threw 340 million dollars at lobbyists in Washington since 2008 to do what lobbyists do best; thwart any kind of progress to move forward to cleaner energy until the oil industry decides.
It’s looking to me like maybe Mother Nature will move us to cleaner energy in the long run, and more than likely too late, but for now we’re being bombarded with commercials meant to scare us by what looks like normal everyday people. From what I’ve seen of a lot of groups these days, we are grossly misinformed altogether, so to see these astute, middle class people give what appears to be an informed opinion without a stutter is a wonder.
Well, I started to dig around to see how much commercials cost, and if the everyday people who appear to be off the street are indeed paid for their “honest” opinion. Geez, I think it’s worse than that. What I found was that the petro industry’s non-video ad copy about impending energy taxes use stock images of middle class Americans supplied by Getty Images. Anyone who has ever imported stock photos for a blog knows what I mean. I’m digressing here, but I used a free stock photo of a coalburner stack for one blog elsewhere and got hit with the worse PC virus I’ve ever encountered. So a heads up on doing that. Treehugger.com exposed the petro industry for using these stock photos with the implication they are really average Americans. Treehugger shows the photos side by side from the anti-energy tax ads and Getty Images. It says a lot about what the petro industry thinks of the American public—we’re dummies that won’t remember that Big Coal was tagged for using the very same stock photos last year.
So who knows who the people are in the actual video taped commercials and whether or not they were paid for their negative response. We certainly know they are not well informed. The next time you see one of those energy tax commercials, don’t let it strike fear in your wallet. It’s not us being considered for a new tax . It’s just unsubstantiated fear mongering, something we should be used to by now. The commercials are really the petro industry’s attempt to transfer their own fears of losing those lucrative subsidies from the American public.